There is a quote from Diana Sinton’s “Critical Spatial Thinking” that stuck during the first read through, and will continue to stick with me as the mapping process continues: “eliminating uncertainty may be an impossible task but acknowledging and understanding it is essential, especially in terms of broader impacts.” Our discussions and readings have supported the fact that, in the field of cartography, lying is inevitable. This fact was proven in my own map very early on. By simply selecting a point on Google Maps from which I would collect a lat/long pair, I was bending the truth a little bit. Where is a location truly situated? I’m sure there isn’t only one correct answer, and therefore, I’m inevitably telling a lie. However, I agree with Sinton that being aware of this fact while continuing work on my map is more important than spending years uncovering how to “correctly” pinpoint a place. Another lesson, that I haven’t necessarily experienced first hand yet, but nonetheless think is crucial to remember, is that the best uses of GIS will not let the technology completely run the show. I think there is much to be said about not only manipulating the capabilities of the corporate software, but the brain processing it took to arrive there. This way of thinking is timely because, especially now and especially in the humanities, research is more easily blocked by technology. Big corporations tend to fund the maths, sciences, and computer sciences that can teach them how to optimize profit. The technology is built for and by those working with linear sequences of thinking. However, the humanities taking full advantage of available technology doesn’t mean it needs to be perfectly right the first time around ⎯ it means we can learn from and build on the mistakes we inevitably make.
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Yes to this. I’m not sure how much ability we’ll have to “fight the power” of the big GIS platforms, but it’s certainly worth continuing to think *around* what they let us do, instead of just accepting their limitations. Happily there are people with more coding skills than I who can take our criticisms and realize them in the form of new platforms, and that’s where I put my hope for more humanities-friendly mapping tools.
In other news, I am fairly confident that “uncertainty” is not your middle name, because I know your initials. Is your title some kind of white lie, à la Monmonier, intended to reveal a deeper truth? ;)